On 29 December in 1890, the Massacre of Wounded Knee occurred.
Wounded Knee, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, was the site of two conflicts between North American Indians and representatives of the U.S. government.
The 1890 massacre left some 300 Native Americans dead, in what was the final clash between federal troops and the Sioux. In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days to protest conditions on the reservation.
There were a few survivors like Jennie In The Lead (pictured above).
Jacqueline Garreaux writes that “Our father used to tell us the story of her survival. He said when the shooting began, it was complete chaos, women and children were running and trying to escape the gunshots from the cavalry soldiers. Many died that day. Over 300 men, women and children.
“My great grandmother Jennie was running and heard a horse running alongside her, she saw the horse was riderless, so she grabbed the reigns and jumped on the horse.
“She rode to the stronghold, which is the Badlands of South Dakota. She had her infant son on her back in a cradle board, when she realized the baby had been shot dead, she buried her baby and proceeded to ride to Bridger, SD, which is on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She became a widow that day and lost her only child. It wasn’t too long after, she met a French fur trapper by the name of William Garreau and they married and went on to have children.
“My grandpa Gilbert came from this union. If it wasn’t for Jennie’s strong will to survive, none of us would be here today. Today I honor my ancestors by remembering them and paying respect to their memory. We will never forget. #WoundedKnee“
Throughout 1890, the U.S. government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which taught that Indians had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs.
Many Sioux believed that if they practiced the Ghost Dance and rejected the ways of the white man, the gods would create the world anew and destroy all non-believers, including non-Indians.
On December 15, 1890, reservation police tried to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, who they mistakenly believed was a Ghost Dancer, and killed him in the process, increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge.
Nearly half of the Sioux killed at the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre were women and children.
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